First Impressions: Emma Rutland

… is the 11th Duchess of Rutland and custodian of belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. The Duchess trained as an opera singer in her youth and went on to work as an interior designer before her marriage to the then marquis of Granby, now the 11th Duke of Rutland. The Duke and Duchess have five children, three of whom are the notable society figures, the manners sisters. 

What are you working on at the moment?

I am putting a huge amount of energy into our new development here at Belvoir, The Engine Yard. It’s a retail village, which sounds incredibly grand, but it’s going to be a lot more than just a retail space, based in a redundant range of Victorian buildings that were used for the workmen on the estate in the past. There’s going to be a plant centre, a restaurant, a day spa, my Duchess’s Gallery, a chocolatier, a playground, and lots more.

When were you at your happiest?

bringing up my young family, which was magical with prams and nannies, and little people and general chaos, but bringing new life into the world was wonderful.

What is your greatest fear?

I’m not very good with blood and guts, which I learnt on a recent trip to a leper colony in Africa. I’m very good with the building of water pumps and things like that, though.

What is your earliest memory?

Going to pick up my brother from hospital in Birmingham when I was two.

What do you dislike about yourself?

I am always frustrated with my weight, and I have a very short fuse.

Who has been your greatest influence?

I’d have to say, my parents.

What is your most treasured possession?

The necklace I’m wearing now; it’s representative of the circle of life.

What trait do you most deplore in others?

Arrogance, laziness and, most of all, a sense of entitlement.

Do you have any pets?

We have 10 dogs! susie is on my lap now and there are plenty of their offspring, too.

Favourite book?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Favourite film?

Far From the Madding Crowd, which I first saw when I was young.

Favourite piece of music?

Cwm Rhondda, or Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer, sung at Cardiff Arms Park stadium. I’m Welsh and it always reminds me of there.

Favourite meal?

Porridge with honey made with boiling water.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?

I only need two really – my father and my father-in-law.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?

That I was a Welsh witch, which is horrid but because I was probably being a Welsh witch at the time.

Do you believe in aliens?

I believe in entities and trapped energy, and things like that. I believe that there is something other than our physical beings out there in the world.

What is your secret vice?

Definitely white wine – any type of white wine.

Do you write thank you notes?

As a rule, yes; it’s something I’ve always done.

Which phrase do you most overuse?

Amazing, that would definitely be the word – amazing.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

A better diet. Can you tell me one thing people might not know about you. That I am training to be a Reiki healer, which takes years to achieve.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

Oh, I’d like: ‘she kicked on’.

The Engine Yard at Belvoir is open now and Belvoir Castle is open until October 2018 for the season. For further information, call 01476- 871001 or visit